Japan's emperor enters hospital for heart surgery

February 17, 2012 04:34

TOKYO - Japan's Emperor Akihito was admitted to a Tokyo hospital on Friday to prepare for heart surgery set for Saturday.

Akihito, 78, has been receiving treatment for heart problems for the past year, and doctors decided last week that he needs a coronary bypass operation.

Television showed a smiling Akihito and his wife Empress Michiko, 77 , being greeted by medical staff at the entrance of the University of Tokyo hospital. The operation will take about five hours.

Akihito, who became emperor after the death in 1989 of his father Hirohito, in whose name Japan fought World War Two, is credited with working to close the gap between the imperial family and ordinary Japanese people.

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